NJ forks over $1.6M for illegal immigrant college tuition

The funds were distributed as part of a recently-signed legislative act to offer students in the country illegally some form of financial aid to attend college.

A new report from New Jersey’s Higher Education Assistance Authority says that 513 Dreamers in New Jersey received $1.6 Million in financial aid through state funds.

New Jersey reportedly granted $1.6 million in financial aid to illegal alien students as part of a new program that allows illegal alien college students to apply for financial aid.

A total of 513 “DREAMers” received $1.6 million in state financial aid during the fall 2018 semester, according to NJ.com. Forty colleges in New Jersey are accepting at least one illegal alien student using financial aid, including The College of New Jersey, Rowan University and Seton Hall University. Rutgers University is accepting the highest number, 150 illegal alien students, awarding a total of $623,109 to the students, or around $4,150 per student.

“Immigration/documentation status [is] not considered during the admission process at [the New Jersey Institute of Technology].” Matthew Goldstein, the school’s chief strategy officer, told Campus Reform. “Merit aid is awarded based upon academic performance.” Goldstein also said that financial aid is only determined for a student after he or she has been admitted to the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

[RELATED: Marquette begs students not to use ‘the i-word’ for illegals]

Campus Reform also reached out to other New Jersey schools to ask about illegal immigrants on campus but did not receive comments in time for publication.

In 2018, according to NJ.com, 1,365 illegal alien students had applied for the program during a four-month period, doubling the estimated 600 that were expected to apply. At the time, 350 of the applications were rejected. The program was initially projected to cost $4.47 million of taxpayer funds, according to a March 2018 fiscal estimate regarding the bill.

Illegal alien students can also apply for financial aid until April 15 to be considered for grants for the fall 2019 semester.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed the new law into effect last May, NJ S699, which allowed students of illegal immigration status to apply for financial aid starting in 2019 if they met certain criteria. The bill barred the state’s Higher Education Students Assistance Authority, or HESAA, from gathering information about citizenship or immigration status of not only the student but also the parents. 

[RELATED: Rutgers trains students to empathize with illegal immigrants]

In accordance with the legislation, HESAA introduced new criteria for illegal immigrants seeking financial aid. These individuals are required to have attended a New Jersey high school for at least three years and graduated. They would also need to be able to submit an affidavit pledging that they have filed for legal immigration status and males would need to register for the Selective Service.

“If a student meets all of these requirements, they are invited to apply for state aid,” HESAA Director of Communications Jennifer Azzarano told Campus Reform. “This aid is need-based, so if their income exceeds the threshold of need, they are not awarded aid.”

Azzarano pointed back to the HESAA press release in May 2018, shortly after the legislation was signed into law, as well as the application page and a Q&A article that was published in the Press of Atlantic City that, Azzarano said, answered other questions residents may have about the program.

Campus Reform also reached out to the Center for Immigration Statistics for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.

[RELATED: Financial aid for illegals likely to cost NJ nearly $5M/year]

Campus Reform first reported about the program in May 2018, just after the bill had been signed by Gov. Murphy. New Jersey was the 10th state to pass such a measure, following on the heels of Washington, Oklahoma, Texas, and others.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @JesseStiller3